Jul 152015

When the pampas grass around the utility boxes in Ken Mackenzie’s front yard got out of hand, he removed it and replaced it with a different grass: Silver Queen corn.

The Hampton Cove Owners Association (HCOA) told Mackenzie to remove it. He reviewed the covenants extensively, and finding no restrictions against planting and growing corn, politely declined.

So, the HCOA dug in, because that’s what homeowner associations do. They’ve decided he owes a fine of $25 by July 28, or they’ll impose additional fines. They’ll also fine him $5 daily, starting next week, for every day the corn remains.

Check out the Facebook page Mackenzie started to document this debacle if you want to read the correspondence, see photos (the one above came from there), leave a supportive word, or even help pay his fines. (Anything over and above goes to relief in Kenya.)

This homeowner association has decided this corn is a violation citing very general rules against things that “diminish or destroy the enjoyment of the community” and such. There is no prohibition of corn, or any other common vegetable garden find, in the covenants. (I understand some HOAs are prohibiting vegetable gardens altogether now, even in the backyard. It depresses me how many of you gleefully sign up for this sort of tyranny.)

As the HCOA continues to wage its silly battle, Mr. Mackenzie has begun to harvest. Here’s hoping his corn outlasts the petty iron fists that would rip it out.

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 Posted by at 1:35 pm

  16 Responses to “Hampton Cove Owners Association bullying resident over corn”

  1. When you sign your name to the HCOA agreement, it is legally binding.

    You can’t just change your mind then whine about punishments.

    These subdivision people should be more aware of the agreements they enter into.

    But that sure is some pretty corn.

    • Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. I think HOAs are silly, but they are indeed voluntary. If you don’t want to abide by the agreement, then don’t sign it.

      The central point is that the Hampton Cove agreement does not prohibit corn anywhere, generally or specifically. The HCOA is trying to gig him on the broad provisions of interfering with enjoyment of the community and such. As he said in one of his letters, he removed one tall grass and planted another. The footprint is similar, the plants are healthy, and the bed is well kept. So how is he screwing the neighborhood up?

      The agreement works both ways. HCOA can’t wish something was in there any more validly than a resident can wish something wasn’t.

    • I don’t think there has ever been an issue with the agreement but rather the enforcement of the agreement.

      What may “diminish or destroy the enjoyment of the community” today may be a common practice in 3 years. What is to stop the HOA from determining literally anything will “diminish or destroy the enjoyment of the community”? Nothing. They make it up as they go. The first mailing to Ken shows that. They crossed out what was a violation on the postcard and wrote in corn.

    • as stated in the article, ken reviewed the HOA code and found nothing that stated he couldnt plant whatever he wanted to in his front yard. the problem here isnt ken’s understanding of HOA code, it is that the HOA didnt like what ken planted.

  2. My HOA recently banned citrus trees in your backyard. This is Florida, for crying out loud, there are citrus trees everywhere and everyone’s backyard is fenced in anyway, and it’s not like they’re ugly.

    Not as pretty as that corn, though.

    • Daniel, how does that work? I mean, when you bought your house you agreed to the HOA’s rules, but what about after you’re there? Did they just decree this citrus tree ban? Or was it voted upon?

  3. This isn’t about the corn, it’s about a HOA trying to step in and make rules up that don’t exist. Ken hasn’t broken ANY of the rules of the HOA, yet, they fel they can throw their power around and fine him for rules that don’t even exist. If there was a HOA court of law, Ken would win with ease. The HOA needs to just let it go and if they don’t want corn in flower beds, change the rules to specifically state that, not twist words around to try to cover it.

  4. I know Ken pretty well. We used to run ambulance calls together in the 80’s. He is a character but I think he is right in this. If the HOA wrote a rule that is that worded so loosely they may just have to deal with it until they can railroad through a change.

  5. Thank you Bo for picking this up. It surprise me to find it. I’d like to let everyone know that the corn is still up. I have also implemented “Operation Shame” where the Hampton Cove Owners Association Board of Directors is now in the position of having to deny the orphans at kenyarelief.org over $500.00 to take $25 from me. Please anyone and everyone visit Hampton Cove Corn Landscapers Facebook page to learn more about kenyarelief.org and all things corny.

  6. Hi Jerry!

  7. As someone also under an HOA (and who used to be pretty friendly with the president) I know for a fact that in today’s climate they are pretty powerless to do anything. Oh, they can fine you all they want, but most HOAs don’t have enough money to actually enforce anything (our own president was complaining about some of the properties here that haven’t even paid their HOA fees for years, and that they can’t even get the money because, well, there’s no money for lawyers and such needed for real action).

    The flip side is that, indeed, they can pretty well interpret the “rules” any way they want (and retroactively change them without your consent). HOAs are basically the worst kind of dictatorships and there is little any resident can do other than just defy them (or run for office themselves and try to change the system from within. Sigh. But like most dictatorships, they are usually in there for life :>).

    Eventually someone, somewhere, will file a class action suit against all of these sorts of things, and it will wind its way up the court system and determine where the lines can and can’t be drawn. In the meantime, just ignore them (life’s too short to worry about this crap).

    • Mike, thanks for your insight. Don’t many of these HOA agreements include placing a lien on your home as an available escalation?

      I wish I shared your thought that we’d eventually be rid of these things, but I don’t think such a class action suit is ever coming. Too many people want them. Too many people have been conditioned to value truly silly things over individual liberty.

      Ever noticed how often we sign away our rights to a jury trial? Wouldn’t surprise me if many HOA agreements include arbitration as well.

  8. My sister unwittingly found herself in an HOA once. Her solution was to get herself elected President, and her first act as President was to put dissolving the HOA up for vote. The measure passed by a wide margin.

  9. The HCOA has sent me a letter from their lawyer now. See it on my Corn Page.

    • Ken, I think I may write my own letter now. I’ll see how it looks in the morning, but it looks promising as I type.

      This is ludicrous. This is also a textbook clinic in why HOAs are, on balance, a solid negative.

  10. The HCOA is after me again!. I cannot communicate here so email me at cornforever@outlook.com.

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